Monica Lennon: To Change Society, We Must Take The Lead
There is no place for discrimination in the 21st century. It is abhorrent to all sense of human decency and equality – and is the fundamental opposite of Labour values.
Yet racism, prejudice, bigotry and sexism remain prevalent across all levels of society today.This is not a problem for just one party, but an issue for all of us as recent cases underline.
The Labour Party has always been at the forefront of the battle to change people’s attitudes and perceptions.
As a party, we will always confront those who spout racist or prejudiced views. As a movement, we will always challenge those who seek to judge people by their colour, faith or gender.
To change society, we must take the lead.
That is why Scottish Labour agreed at its conference in Dundee to take the firmest possible action against discrimination in all its forms. To make sure we have the right policies and procedures in place, we have set up an independent advisory panel made up of external equality and diversity experts. The panel will bring forward recommendations and review Scottish Labour’s approach to equality and diversity. The recommendations made by this group will be made public. This transparent approach is a sign of how committed we are to getting things right and we want to be held accountable for our actions.
The members of this independent advisory panel are non-partisan and should any other political party wish to pursue work in this area with any member of this group, there are no restrictions on a member supporting them. We believe that all political parties would benefit from this approach.
Our party needs to be representative of the people we seek to represent. It’s crucial that our elected politicians reflect the diversity of the population and we believe equality needs to run through our organisation and our activities.
As we are on a general election footing we will soon be selecting candidates. We have agreed 15 out of the 20 marginal seats will be all-women shortlists and we want to see women applying in open selections too; regarding BAME members, we agreed a guaranteed place on shortlists where at least one BAME member puts themselves forward for selection, assuming the member fulfils the other candidacy requirements; and we are also seeking affiliation from the Scottish branch of BAME Labour to the Scottish Labour Party.
Whilst these are important equality measures, we fully understand that we need to foster a change in culture so that everyone who shares our values and wants to be part of Scottish Labour, feels welcome and able to fully participate. We know we have lessons to learn and that is why the independent panel is crucial; we need outside experts to be straight with us about what we can do better.
The Scottish Labour Party is committed to promoting equality and rooting out racism and discrimination in all its forms; the examples I’ve set out signal our intent.
Together, we can end racism and discrimination in society – and the Labour Party is determined to lead the way.